Five months after Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive announced that he would retire on July 31, 2015, after 13 years at the helm of the league, the SEC has named Greg Sankey as his replacement.
Sankey, who has also been with the SEC for 13 years after serving as the commissioner of the Southland Conference for seven years, was promoted to executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer of the league in 2012 and was long rumored to be the favorite for the position.
“The universities of the SEC represent the greatest combination of academic and athletic excellence and I am honored to be selected to follow Mike Slive as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference,” Sankey said in a press release. “The SEC is poised to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes for generations to come. We must ensure that the lessons they learn from their achievements in competition and in the classroom translate into success in life after college.”
Just the eighth commissioner in SEC history, Sankey will take over for Slive, who oversaw a growth period for the conference unmatched by leagues across the country. Slive, who will remain with the SEC as a consultant for a span of four years, negotiated record television contracts for the league and launched the SEC ESPN Network in 2014.
Football teams won seven-straight Bowl Championship Series national titles during Slive’s tenure as well as 60 other national championships; the 67 titles came in 15 of the 21 sports in which the league participates.
Slive also made an impact nationally with roles in BCS coordination, NCAA Tournament selection (men’s basketball), NCAA governance and the new College Football Playoff, which debuted this past season.
Conference presidents and chancellors voted on Slive’s successor.
“The institutions of the Southeastern Conference searched for a commissioner who would carry forward the momentum of success enjoyed by the SEC over the last decade while also possessing a vision for change in the modern era of college athletics,” said Nick Zeppos, Vanderbilt’s chancellor and the president of the SEC presidents and chancellors.
“Greg Sankey’s experience with our institutions, his respect on the national landscape, his understanding of the balance of athletics and academics, and his passion for the welfare of student-athletes make him the perfect leader for the SEC.”
According to the SEC, Sankey’s had a heavy hand in many of the league’s behind-the-scenes efforts to adjust “governance, enforcement and compliance.” Furthermore, he serves on the NCAA’s Division I Legislative Council, Committee on Academic Performance and is chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley (school release): “Greg is the perfect person to lead the SEC into the next chapter of its storied history. Like Commissioner Slive, he is a consensus builder who understands the big picture and understands the complex issues facing collegiate athletics today. He is well respected and has the ability to connect with his peer groups, coaches, administrators and student athletes.”
Head basketball coach Billy Donovan (post-game press conference): “I love Greg. I think it’s a great hire. I think he’s really smart. I think he’s bright. I think he gets the big picture. He’s been involved in a lot of different committees. I think he’s got a really, really good pulse on the NCAA. I think he’s got a really good pulse on where college athletics is moving. In my interaction with Greg, I couldn’t be any happier for our league because I really believe they hired a great guy.”